by Jeff Skinner
It is no secret that Tiger Woods is the biggest name in golf. In the past fifteen years he is by far the most popular (and unpopular) golfer on the planet. His presence has transformed the PGA Tour and made millionaires out of hundreds of men that play professional golf. Anyone near Tiger Woods until his scandal was swept along in the tsunami that was Tiger Woods. One of those fortunate few was Hank Haney.
Haney was a well established coach and a winner of the PGA Teacher of the Year in 1993 but he became a household name when he paired with the most popular player in the world. Coaching the best golfer in the world and one of the most recognizable athletes gave Haney a status he never had before. Now with the release of Haney’s book on Tiger, The Big Miss, the Haney/Woods relationship is in the news again.
You can see the excerpts in Golf Digest here and here is the link to the very defensive response from Tiger’s agent, Mark Steinberg. According to Haney, Tiger actually thought of leaving golf to try and join the Navy Seals.
“Tiger was seriously considering becoming a Navy SEAL. I didn’t know how he’d go about it, but when he talked about it, it was clear he had a plan….I thought, Wow, here is Tiger Woods, greatest athlete on the planet, maybe the greatest athlete ever, right in the middle of his prime, basically ready to leave it all behind for a military life.”
Now let’s just put aside the fact that you just don’t go and sign up for the Navy Seals. It’s not like a neighborhood gym where you sign up and join or the Boy Scouts or the PTA. This is the most selective, most demanding sector of the military in the world. So maybe with Tiger’s affection for the military (his dad was a Green Beret) he daydreamed of what it would be like to be a Navy Seal. We all have done that at one time or another but I find it difficult to imagine that he actually considered joining the military. Score that one as a cheap shot from Haney.
Of the excerpts released, I thought the most intriguing is the one concerning Tiger’s “fearlessness.” “One of the adjectives most often used to describe Tiger Woods was fearless. But the more I observed him close up, the more it became clear he wasn’t,” Haney writes. “Sometimes, to make it less of a big deal, he’d remind me that he had never considered himself a particularly good driver, at least in comparison with the rest of his game. ‘That’s why my name is Woods,’ he’d joke. ‘Maybe it would have been different if I’d been named Fairway.’”
Until Woods came back from his scandal and his injuries, no one in golf portrayed as much confidence and fearlessness as Woods. He was borderline arrogant with his abilities on the course, making shots few players would ever attempt. Hearing that he was apprehensive with his driver is surprising. When he was younger he was one of the longest, never the straightest, but his big stick was an intimidating weapon in his arsenal. Knowing that he feared the big dog, as all of us hackers do, is a revelation.
Haney’s book will sell, that’s for sure and I can’t think that any discussion of it by Tiger or his agent will do anything but sell more copies of it. Tiger isn’t happy with Haney and his book but the more he (and Steinberg) protests the more books get sold. Right now, Tiger has more pressing problems, like getting his entire game together as he faces a new test at The Honda Classic this week.